Hollywood! This is what Los Angeles is all about. The Hollywood area surveys for SurveyLA are being done by consultants with HRG, and I joined Paul Travis and Meredith Drake Reitan for a day’s fieldwork in the Hollywood Hills in the area around Laurel Canyon.

Meredith Drake Reitan and Paul Travis look at maps and enter data in Laurel Canyon

Have map, will travel: Paul Travis reviews his reconnaissance map for the survey area.

The Hollywood Community Plan Area, as defined by the Department of City Planning, is absolutely gigantic – nearly a quarter-million people (226,112, according to 2008 estimates) in 25.19 square miles. The Community Plan areas are how the SurveyLA officially maps out its various regions to be surveyed, so Hollywood is a big job—made even bigger because of the very high density of historic properties and significant historical associations. (For more info on the community plan areas, see the City Planning website at http://planning.lacity.org/)

Within that Community Plan Area, however, there are a number of different areas that are often considered to be separate neighborhoods. The Mapping L.A. Project from the L.A. Times, for example, divides it up into at least three areas: Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, and Hollywood Hills West. According to that breakdown, today’s work was in the “Hollywood Hills West” area. This is an absolutely beautiful area of densely-forested canyons, steep hills, and rocky promontories with amazing views out over the flatlands south of Hollywood Boulevard and all the way to downtown LA and beyond. I’m not the first person to notice this, of course, and for many years pretty now the canyons and hilltops have been pretty well lined with homes—many quite magnificent. Even so, this area still has a very low population density for Los Angeles, only 3,048 people per square mile. (http://projects.latimes.com/mapping-la/neighborhoods/neighborhood/hollywood-hills-west/)

One of the interesting neighborhoods in the Hollywood Hills is Mt. Olympus, a 1970s development with many fascinating homes built in an unusual, modernistic re-interpretation of Greek revival style. Some photos in the gallery below:

We spent the majority of the day in the environs of Laurel Canyon. A century or more ago, this was a very rustic area, and hunting lodges were about the only structures. (A few of them—mostly heavily modified over time—still exist.) By the 1920s, the beauty of the area had started attracting some of the early movie stars, and by the 1920s there was a significant residential community that grew over the next decades. Perhaps its most notable claim to fame is as a center of music and hippy culture in the 1960s—a list of the celebrities who lived there reads like a who’s-who list from the decade, from Jim Morrison and Joni Mitchell to Frank Zappa.

A happy surveyor in the Laurel Canyon area of the Hollywood Hills

Not a lot of options for places to eat lunch in Laurel Canyon, but we were all excited to stop at the one place that is there-- the famous Laurel Canyon Country Store, oft-visited in previous years by the famous one-time residents of Laurel Canyon like Jim Morrison and Joni Mitchell.

Lunch! A corned beef sandwich from the Canyon Country Store. Tasty! I love LA's pastrami and corned beef, and I love how places that make sandwiches with them never skimp on the meat.

Paul Travis and Meredith Drake Reitan, on lunch break at the Canyon Country Store.

About Steve Duncan

Urban explorer, photographer, and historian.
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